when one wonders how to begin to talk
about something, the word swallows the world.
the word comes close to carrying its own ontology,
its own reward for being:
all the way to hakõne
words were hung on every tree. the most striking,
startingly orange, tuned by the breeze.
words, maple leaves. words were brown moss,
mellow sunlight with soft hair.

words were on the lake; sea-mews spanning circles,
white on white foam of the boat’s wake. a translucent mist
held the banks in check. then, a sudden reined splash
of muted colour, a shape proffered itself. the image beckoned
the eye, a word whispered itself: it’s a blue moored boat,
a clump of willows. words were a crocodile of schoolboys
jostling & laughing on the deck.

the lake was a sheet of glass; everything a smaller mirror
beneath. on the surface, a catamaran floated us,
words, all the way to hakõne, words were.

by Arthur Yap
from man snake apple (1986)


SELECTED POEMS: "conceptual art" >